Hundreds of years, maybe thousands later (dates around her life story are very scarce), to have kings still fighting over her, so many generations after their forefathers did the same, makes you marvel at the power of a woman with her own agenda.
The common ground Ife and Ugbo agree on, is that she first lived in Ife, been married to an Ife king/prince, was captured, married an Ugbo king, went back to Ife and helped Ife to overcome Ugbo army. Obviously while she is a hero to Ife, she’s a traitor to Ugbo. To be one she had to be the other , what else do we know about her?
- She was desirable
- Possibly light complexioned
- Was captured or allowed herself to be captured
- Was from Ife environs
- Had been married to an Ife king/prince
- Politically Shrewd
- She had a son
- Callous? To execute her plot, she sacrificed her son, whether by leaving him behind at Ugbo, or by pledging him to a deity
- Age at the time of her marriages unknown
- Age at the time of her escapade unknown
But did she abandon her Ugbo marriage as part of a pre planned military strategy or out of some personal dissatisfaction with it, or a desire to return to her previous husband? We don’t know if she simply hated the lifestyle of the Ugbo, and saw a chance to simultaneously end her marriage and become a hero at Ife. Dr. Olapade Agoro is a traditional ruler in the Owa Tapa of Itapa-Ijeshaland. He seems to think Moremi was just a runaway wife.
He told The Guardian’s Palace Watch , “My take in all this, is that Moremi was a wife to the then king of Ugbo Nla. If her statute is to be erected in Ile-Ife for whatever reasons, the Ooni of Ife needed to have approached or obtained formal permission from her husband and the people of Ugbo Nla”
“Now, to the main issue, because Moremi, who was so pretty a wife abandoned her husband and came to Ile-Ife to stay, and because the Ugbo Nla people wanted her back at all cost, they resorted to insistent raids of Ile-Ife. …..they invaded Ile-Ife with the masquerades, which they covered or designed with the materials they harvested in their areas, which were mainly made up of “raffia fronds”. Most people do not know much about these materials, only people from present day Epe and Ugbo nla knew about it. We call it Eko raffia. Wizards grow these plants along the river banks in the riverine areas. These plants are still in these areas up till now.”
“They did it the first time and were so successful; they even burnt down Ile-Ife in the process. They went ahead and did it the second time. It was during the third attempt that Moremi confessed that the raids were being carried out because of her. So, she packed her belongings and left Ile-Ife for the areas the Ugbo Nla people lived in neighboring Ile-Ife. When Moremi went back to join the people of Ugbo Nla in their camps, (it) was then she got the secret of the tricks the Ugbo people used to torment the Ife people after which she went back again to Ile-Ife to leak the secret to the Ife people. I would want any Ile-Ife person to show me the son or children Moremi had in Ile-Ife or show me Moremi’s legal husband in Ile-Ife?”
“There is no dispute that Moremi had a son for the then Olugbo of Ugbo. (Known then as Ela Olurogbo) The question of whether the son was sacrificed or not, is immaterial in this case. What is important is that she was a legal wife to the then Olugbo of Ugbo kingdom. Moremi had her husband in Ugbo Nla and came to Ife to stay, because as was the practice then, most Yoruba people had their own locality around Ile-Ife. These places are where we now know as present day Ile-Ife. We had then Ife-Odon. Moremi alongside others lived in the jungles not too far from present day Ile-Ife.”
“ It was the Ugbo Nla camp around Ile-Ife that she lived because if we were talking about the present day Ugbo Kingdom, you have to crisscross so many places to get to there. For example, there are two or three major routes from Ile-Ife to present day Ugbo kingdom. From Ife to Ondo, from Ondo to Okitipupa, from Okitipupa to Ugbo kingdom, the question is how would Moremi have done those tortuous journeys all on her own in those days?”
“These same people made it look like the Ugbo Nla people had to travel these long journeys to come and carry out their raids in Ile-Ife. Commonsense shows, that they were operating from their camps around Ile-Ife. Yes, at some point, they, the Ugbo Nla people, had to embark on what we call the “escapement option” that took them finally to their present locations.”
Military heroine, traitor or runaway wife? The Olugbo had made his opinion about Moremi public, Ooni responded in an explosive statement , and now the Iwo Tapa wades in. As we close 2016 sentiments about the Royal Yoruba Love Triangle of the millennium continue to rage..